From Humans of New York, August 13, 2013 [Used by Permission]
Amy Maxmen doesn’t want Brooklyn to become too much like Cambridge.
The Harvard PhD in evolutionary biology likes being around scientists, but she also likes the fact that Brooklyn has its creative flavor. That space where science meets art is reflected at her job, as senior editor at Nautilus, an online and print magazine that recently broke two million page views, after launching only about six months ago.
“A lot of our writers are from Brooklyn,” she told us, “I think about half of our staff, which is about a dozen people, are in Brooklyn. There is more and more science here. I feel like we have all this other stuff, too. Artists and musicians, so it’s great to be at a magazine that wants to show that science can be part of all those kinds of things too.”
Maxmen has been gravitating lately, in her writing, toward infectious diseases, though she earned her doctorate studying sea spiders. She has come to like covering disease because it’s one of the strongest ways science intersects with humanity.
That said, her sea spider work showed her the way into journalism. Maxmen explained that sea spiders originated before insects but haven’t really changed much since then. That’s when she observed that sea spiders have claws growing out of the front of their brains, a finding that stirred up debate about how closely related sea and land spiders really are. It led science writers to her. The experience of getting her work covered led Maxmen to think that she might like the job of writing about complicated things.
She’s lived in Greenpoint, Bushwick and Crown Heights, where she lives now and where she met up with Technically Brooklyn, at Cafe Rue Dix.
She only recently joined the staff of Nautilus. “It’s a science magazine,” she told us, “but it focuses how science intersects so many other things. How does it intersect with culture? How does it intersect with religion? How does it intersect with politics?” Also: “It’s very beautiful. They hired an amazing art director and they pay attention to how it looks online.”
Maxmen is drawn to the visual side of journalism herself. She told us that in her freelance days she couldn’t always work for a publication that could afford to send out a writer and a photographer, so she made it a priority to become a writer that could also get the photo.
Here are three of this Crown Heights writer’s stories paired with photos she took making them from out in the field.
- “Death at the doorstep,” on malaria and access to treatment in Uganda, in Nature.
- “Bedbug Revival 2011: What you need to know,” guest blog on Scientific America.
- “Chimp comedy brings the blues,” guest blog on Scientific American.
You can see more of Maxmen’s photography on her Flickr page and more of her writing on her own website. In a recent article she did for her new publication she revealed that when you think you’re ordering Red Snapper at a sushi place, you can virtually guarantee you are getting tilapia.